For the most critical control of colour a variety of targets and devices have come onto the market. The X-Rite ColorChecker Passport offers the same advantages but in a literally passport sized package that can be carried anywhere with the minimum of inconvenience. Let us examine how it performs in practice.
X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Features
The passport sized case, measuring just 125 x 90 x 9mm and weighing a modest 80g, contains not one but three separate targets.
The Creative Enhancement target can be used to detect clipping and to establish warming or cooling of the image. For example, a portrait could be warmed slightly to enhance the skin tones.
The Classic target is an industry standard colour patch that enables custom camera profiles to be made and also allows the evaluation of specific colours. For this review I made a profile for my Pentax K-5
and shot a multi-coloured subject using the SMC Pentax-D FA 100mm f2.8 Macro lens.
The White Balance target is used to make a custom white balance in the usual way.
The final panel in the case is used to note the date the Passport is first used and replacement after 2 years is recommended. All colours fade with time and this device will be no exception.
Software is provided on CD and this loads quickly and efficiently with no problems. For the purposes of the review I used a Windows 7 PC.
X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Performance
The sample shot shows a box full of various styles and colours of dice and what is immediately noticeable is that both the profiled DNG file and the K-5 JPEG are remarkably similar. In this instance it is a moot point which is the better shot and I conclude that, seen independently, both are totally acceptable.
The software and process involved is straightforward and unambiguous. The Passport is placed within the image frame to establish the profile, although in every case the software failed to Auto Detect and the position of the colour patches had to be manually specified. This is a simple enough procedure.
|DNG Macro - Colours are highly accurate using a DNG custom profile.
||JPEG - The Pentax K-5 Premium JPEG is very close to the corrected DNG file.
In fact, the Passport can be used with JPEG files to fine tune the end result, but it is primarily intended for use with DNG files. This is fine for Pentax, Leica and a few other cameras, but not all marques offer DNG capture. In this event it will be necessary to use Adobe's DNG converter, thus negating some of the convenience that the passport's diminutive size offers.
The ColorChecker Passport is well made and should last easily for its two year lifespan. The software is easy to set up and use. It is somewhat critical to ensure that there is no clipping in any of the colour channels when a profile is being made, otherwise the software refuses to proceed. This is not a criticism, just an observation that accurate exposure is necessary, which is no bad thing.
X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Verdict
The ColorChecker Passport is an easy to use and convenient tool that will be advantageous when working with critical colour requirements. The ability to warm and cool images on location shoots will be very helpful to portrait and wedding photographers. General users might bear in mind that, depending upon their camera, the advantages gained may be very subtle and not necessarily relevant to shots where the colour of the light is not defined. An example would be a sunset, where correction would be entirely subjective in any event.
|A very convenient and useful item where maximum colour accuracy is required.
X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Pros
Easy to use
X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Cons
No fade checking patch
|VALUE FOR MONEY